Maple Leaf Foods Q4 net earnings increase

Maple Leaf Foods has reported net earnings of $21.92m for the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to net

Sales for the fourth quarter decreased 1 per cent to $1.32bn compared to £1.34bn last year, while sales for the year were consistent at $5.2bn.

Earnings in the fourth quarter benefited from an increased contribution from the prepared meats business following a major product recall in August 2008. Although earnings are higher, they compare with a quarter that was materially impacted by the August 2008 product recall, and there still remains significant room to further increase sales and profitability.

For the Meat Products group, net sales for the quarter were $842.18m compared to $846.32m for the prior year quarter. Bakery Products Group sales were $432.04m compared to $444.21m for the corresponding quarter prior year.

Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, said: "Our prepared meats results improved substantially, although an unexpected, counter seasonal run-up in raw material costs compressed margins in both primary processing and prepared meats late in the quarter. In our bakery operations, lower wheat costs were more than offset by higher promotional activity to launch new products and poor market conditions affecting our UK business."

For the fiscal 2009, net earnings were $52.15m or $0.39 per diluted share compared to loss of $36.86m or $0.29 loss per diluted share for the last year quarter. Sales for the fiscal year 2009 was $5.22bn compared to $5.24bn in 2008.